Safeguarding The Rights Of Suspects In Police Custody

1979 words - 8 pages

If you were a suspect being questioned in a police station, which of
your rights would you exercise and which would you waive? Which of
your rights would you regard as the most important? Why?

For many suspects the process of questioning in a police station is
very stressful with 60%[1] confessing or making damaging admissions.
The ability to take advantage of the right to silence and right to see
a solicitor in theory should help to alleviate some of this stress and
consequently prevent false confessions which may constitute towards
the 60% of confessions. However, in practise the evidence appears to
show otherwise. The right to see a solicitor has been practised more
adequately recently with more people actually getting advice from a
lawyer rather than a clerk. The right to silence has been adopted in
a harsh manner, failing to protect innocent suspect. This bring me
onto the second question of which right I would use if I was a
suspect. This depends on whether I am a guilty or innocent of the
charges in question. Furthermore, if I was guilty I would be more
inclined to use the right to silence whereas if I was innocent I would
be less inclined to use it since the courts are able to infer guilt
from silence. Although the right to a solicitor has proven to be
ineffective by various researchers I would be more likely to adopt
this right since it can help to alleviate any stress incurred as well
as preventing a false confession.

The right to silence has been used through the Police and Criminal
Evidence act 1984. Theoretically this right should help to protect
nervous suspects from any groundless questions which police officers
may ask[2]. Especially since it is not seen as an obstruction and if
the case goes to court the jury are reminded that the suspect was
allowed to remain silent and must not find guilt based solely on
silence[3]. However, in practise it appears that the court can and
does infer guilt from silence under the Criminal Justice and Public
Order Act 1994 s. 34-39. Section 24 gives judges broad discretion to
direct jury to what inferences they might properly draw. This leaves
room for the judge to use his subjective opinions to consciously or
unconsciously persuade the jury that the silence could be due to
guilt. Guilt can be inferred from the defendant’s failure to provide
explanations for the proximity to the scene of the crime under section
37. These provisions mean that the right to silence is only really
worth adopting if you are guilty of the offence in question since it
will prevent the suspect from making any damaging admissions which
could lead to a conviction. If he remains silent there is a chance
that the police will not have enough evidence to charge. Furthermore,
if I was a guilty suspect being questioned I would exercise right to
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